Three Ways to Get Your Board Composition Right

Do you wonder what is the right composition for your board, the configuration that will have the expertise, abilities, and skills to create a well-functioning board? Planning your board composition in a deliberate way is a tenet of exceptional nonprofit management.  But how to do it?

The first key is the Board Skills Matrix. A skills grid is a valuable tool for identifying the necessary board member skills for your nonprofit. The board matrix will:

  • Determine the board skills your nonprofit requires to be successful
  • Determine the skills of your current board members
  • See where the gaps are

But what skills does your board need? Some of the typical skills include Finance, Technology, Leadership, Fundraising, Legal, Strategic Planning, Governance, and Risk Management. What other skills might your board need to be successful? Consider what you hope to accomplish in the next 5 years and what board skills might help you get there. Will you need help with Human Resource Management, Property Management, Marketing, or Grant writing? Your specific Board Matrix should help you focus your recruiting efforts on the necessary skill sets.

While a Board Matrix is a highly useful guiding document, it should not be your only consideration. The second key to an effective board is ensuring board members have:

  • Passion for the cause
  • Respect for others
  • Thoughtful ability to consider issues, articulate those thoughts, and ask pertinent questions
  • Sense of responsibility for making things happen
  • Vision to think beyond today

Third, confirm that potential board candidates:

  • Have the right cultural fit
  • Add value to the current board composition
  • Are able to align their skills with the strategic direction of the nonprofit
  • Possess the right experience within their field
  • Represent diversity of all kinds – racial, geographic, religious, gender, profession, age, etc.

With thoughtful planning and focused implementation, your board of directors can posses the critical talents to partner with your chief executive and lead your nonprofit to excellence.